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I picked this book up during my recent travels, assuming correctly that it would provide a good perspective to recent re evaluations of what religion is something I need for a book about Asian worldviews I am working on It is a heart warming little treatise, a serious scholar s attempt to reconcile, toward the end of his life, his atheism with the idea of religion I was actuallty torn between giving it 3 and 4 stars because I can sympathize with the attitude But there are some serious pro I picked this book up during my recent travels, assuming correctly that it would provide a good perspective to recent re evaluations of what religion is something I need for a book about Asian worldviews I am working on It is a heart warming little treatise, a serious scholar s attempt to reconcile, toward the end of his life, his atheism with the idea of religion I was actuallty torn between giving it 3 and 4 stars because I can sympathize with the attitude But there are some serious problems in his approach, which made me finally settle for 3 liked it instead of 4 really liked it as the book itself begs the question of what really means Dworkin s basic tenet is that religious attitude seeing the beauty of the universe and feeling the need to live a good life does not have to be grounded in theism, or godly religion, but is also available to atheists and agnostics There is nothing wrong with that a question of terminology , but his stance, which he describes as ungrounded value realism slowly starts to presuppose an objective existence of beauty and values, which are self identical, continuous and universal Dworkin is careful to quote Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko as authors of ravishing paintings alongside Raphael, but on the whole this view still smacks of classicism or at least the 19th century, and dangerously provides a ground for disdain for people who do not have the ability to see this beauty The ontological status of values is also just set to real and objective , without a proper clarification of what this means Plato St.Thomas Hegel Why do values and beauty have to be eternally the same And so Western, despite claims to universality In the third chapter, which speaks about religious freedom, Dworkin is back on his home ground of legal scholarship and provides quite a few interesting insights, particularly when he proposes that religious freedom should not be a specific right to worship, practice etc, but a part of the general ethical independence that governments have no right to interfere with This approach indeed seems to be able to clarify quite a few issues and, among other things, explains why religious freedom should entail the right to gay marriage and abortion His legal philosophy is sound and invites one to readof his work, especially Justice for Hedgehogs , from which he quotes quite a bit [[ Free E-pub ]] ⇰ Religion Without God ↠ Originally delivered as the Einstein lectures at Bern University on December The text of a draft of the lectures, presented onDecemberin the Colloquium in Legal, Political and Social Philosophy at NYU School of Law coordinated by Ronald Dworkin and Thomas Nagel, is available here Videos from the three lectures are available here excerpt from the published version of the first chapter is available here An attempt to expand the scope of religious conviction by dissociating it from belief in one orsupernatural entities, in order to subsume a form of atheism and agnosticism under the constitutional clause that protects freedom of religion The form of atheism which gets thus protected is the one which subscribes to what Dworkin calls religious attitude , essentially the commitment to objective moral values and intrisic beauty of the universe The problem is, of course, whether any attitu An attempt to expand the scope of religious conviction by dissociating it from belief in one orsupernatural entities, in order to subsume a form of atheism and agnosticism under the constitutional clause that protects freedom of religion The form of atheism which gets thus protected is the one which subscribes to what Dworkin calls religious attitude , essentially the commitment to objective moral values and intrisic beauty of the universe The problem is, of course, whether any attitude dissociated from belief in God can be properly called religious , but Dworkin is referring to Einstein s claim that he is himself a devoutly religious man despite being an atheist, and one can see why Dworkin needs the dissociation This seems a promising practical tack, at least prima facie, to make atheismacceptable in the US Ronald Dworkin s Last BookOver a lengthy career, the late Ronald Dworkin 1931 February 14, 2013 gradually expanded his philosophical scope from legal philosophy and a rejection of legal positivism to broad questions of ethics, metaphysics, and value Thus, Dworkin s broadest statement of his philosophy is included in Religion without God 2013 which Dworkin submitted to his publisher shortly before his death This short book is based upon lectures Dworkin gave in December 2011 at the Uni Ronald Dworkin s Last BookOver a lengthy career, the late Ronald Dworkin 1931 February 14, 2013 gradually expanded his philosophical scope from legal philosophy and a rejection of legal positivism to broad questions of ethics, metaphysics, and value Thus, Dworkin s broadest statement of his philosophy is included in Religion without God 2013 which Dworkin submitted to his publisher shortly before his death This short book is based upon lectures Dworkin gave in December 2011 at the University of Bern Due to illness, he was unable to revise the book as fully as he had hoped Religion without God is a short pocket sized book of 160 pages in four chapters In many portions, Dworkin speaks from the heart as well as the mind The book has intimacy and eloquence as well as thought In its meditations on death in the final chapter, the book has a valedictory tone.In addition to its intimacy, the book is striking in some of its strong philosophical assertions This is not primarily in Dworkin s exposition of non theological religion, a subject many writers have explored It liesin what appear to be Dworkin s strong claims for objectivity and realism in the realm of values and in his claims for philosophical rationalism, necessitarianism and intelligibilty Many contemporary American philosophers would be hesitant when faced with such strong positions Dworkin seems to me not to fully develop or support some of these difficult positions He argues for some but not for all of them in his longer book of 2011, Justice for Hedgehogs Justice for HedgehogsI found the book departs in places from its theme of Religion without God In the third chapter titled Religious Freedom , Dworkin moves from broader philosophical questions back to Dworkin susual focus on legal philosophy and political liberalism The chapter examines religious freedom and personal liberty under the constitution and deals with matters such as gay rights, same sex marriage, abortion, conscientious objection, and the extent to which the use of illegal hallucinogenic drugs should be allowed to religious groups Dworkin argues that the first amendment right to religious freedom is better viewed as a legal right to protection for decisions showing ethical independence or the freedom of individuals to choose for themselves the fundamental ways to live their lives as long as these ways do not impinge upon other people The discussion is interesting but slightly off focus for the book as a whole In addition, I am unclear about whether Dworkin s claim for ethical independence is consistent fully for his claim for the objectivity of ethical values which he supports in the remaining sections of the book.The remaining three chapters, particularly the first and last, do develop Dworkin s views on the relationship between religion and God Broadly, Dworkin distinguishes between a religious outlook and a naturalistic outlook The latter Dworkin argues is based solely on science and materialism and has no place for values or purpose Dworkin s criticism of naturalism needs careful thought and development and may not fully convince those who hold to a broad naturalistic position The religious outlook, for Dworkin, accepts the full, independent reality of value and makes two claims about objectivity First the religious outlook involves a commitment to the objective meaning and importance of human life The purpose of life, for Dworkin, is for each individual to make his life successful by living well, accepting responsibility for oneself and one s projects and acknowledging moral responsibilities to other people Second, the religious outlook holds that nature in not simply a brute matter of fact to be studied by science but is itself sublime something of intrinsic value and wonder Dworkin argues that in the sense he has developed both theists and atheists may be religious He maintains that religions have a fact or scientific component and a value component Dworkin then argues at some length that value commitments and the objectivity of ethical claims do not depend upon facts of a natural or supernatural sort In other words, the objectivity of value claims is a matter of the value claims themselves and does not depend on a God for validation The existence of God would not be sufficient to validate the claims in any event Hence a person can be religious, for Dworkin, without commitment to the existence of God, although Dworkin does not argue against theism per se in the book Dworkin s arguments for the separation of God s existence from value are based upon Plato s dialogue the Euthyphro and on David Hume s argument that questions of value cannot be decided by questions of fact.In the first and fourth and to some extent the third chapters of the book, Dworkin expands on the objectivity of value and on the nature of living well The second chapter, The Universe consists of a lengthy, challenging excursus into physical science Some religious individuals, theist or non theist, might have qualms about the relevance of this chapter, which develops the strong character of some of Dworkin s philosophical views Broadly, Dworkin considers modern physics and develops his view he maintains is part of the religious outlook, that the universe is beautiful objectively and in whole rather than just in part to some human beings , and consistent and rational throughout rather than an assemblage of complex, unrelated facts He concludes f or those of us who think beauty real, the scientific presumption that the universe is finally fully comprehensible is also the religious conviction that it shines with real beauty Dworkin s position in this chapter, for me, approaches that of philosophical idealism and rationalism which most contemporary thinkers reject That does not make the position mistaken I was fascinated, if not entirely convinced, to read how close Dworkin comes to it.This short book is a fitting testament to Dworkin and takes his work well beyond the scope of the legal philosophy for which he will be remembered The book represents aspiration and visionthan completeness I was glad to think with Dworkin about philosophy, value, and a meaningful life in this, his final book.Robin Friedman Dworkin s arguments are not compelling I would not recommend this one I m about to start Mark Johnston s Saving God Religion After Idolatry Johnston s a solid philosopher and, if you re interested in contemporary accounts of alternative religiosity, I would recommend checking his titles out. The religious people on the one hand, and the secular scientific people on the otherthat s the back of the postcard version But the philosopher and legal theorist Ronald Dworkin was both an atheist he did not believe in a personal god and a non naturalist he believed that certain no natural things not gods, but values were objectively real In this, his last book, he argues that many atheists have muchin common with believers in God than might appear to be the case the atheists r The religious people on the one hand, and the secular scientific people on the otherthat s the back of the postcard version But the philosopher and legal theorist Ronald Dworkin was both an atheist he did not believe in a personal god and a non naturalist he believed that certain no natural things not gods, but values were objectively real In this, his last book, he argues that many atheists have muchin common with believers in God than might appear to be the case the atheists reject what Dworkin himself calls the scientific content of the major religions namely, that a god or gods exist, and that this is the root of our experience of value , but many of them share with theists an essentially religious view, which is that our own response to the world cannot be explained or fully appreciated on the basis of any exclusively scientific picture of the world s contents.Frankly, I don t know whether I agree with Dworkin or not on balance, probably not But his arguments are a useful antidote to a certain kind of facile scientistic view He rehearses why it is that Hume s Principle explodes the idea that believers can defend their values as true just because god says they are true but he also notes that this cuts two ways sure, our sense that cruelty is wrong is and should be independent of what god allegedly says about it, but it also is and should be independent of what theory tells us about the structure of the empirical world.There s a connection Dworkin could easily make here but doesn t Cruelty is wrong because it s the deliberate infliction of suffering suffering is bad indeed exists because we are conscious and consciousness is the perhaps the biggest of several thorns in the flesh of what might fairly, I think, be called shallow naturalism They don t call it the Hard Problem for nothing.The main representative of this view is Richard Dawkins, who comes in for some criticism here that s all thetelling for being so polite and so knowing Dawkins himself is of course devastating against soft religious targets, but he has his own problems We can al agree perhaps that the universe is just, like, awesomeBut, on Dawkins s view surely what one ought to say that it isn t in fact awesome, but only causes emotions of awesomeness in some people And, wait, if that s so, then why insist that it s awesome Why not insist instead on what we ve just admitted, which is that it objectively scientifically isn t Here I think at once of the philosopher Jerry Fodor s remark about Dawkins whatever his virtues, a feeling for the hardness of hard questions pretty clearly isn t among them Dworkin s position, in contrast, is that in calling the universe awesome we are responding to the objective external fact of its awesomeness in which case naturalists are left with the puzzle of where in the universe this property could possibly be located This might be called the Hard Problem of Awesomeness There s almost no jargon here, and Dworkin is a lucid, elegant writer On the other hand, he s a subtle thinker moving among very abstract and difficult distinctions, so despite its brevity this is not bedtime reading The third section offers a sketchy but interesting investigation of religious freedom and why, in Dworkin s view, rights to religious freedom are almost invariably biased in favor of the values and beliefs of theists, as distinct from both religious atheists and naturalists He argues that they should be reconstructed as rights to ethical independence, which would respect equally the beliefs of theists, religious atheists, and naturalist atheists A good lens through which to think about current debates about providing contraception benefits to employees, say or flower arrangements to gay couples This book has a curious unfinished feeling to it the concepts deployed are not as well defined or thoroughly fleshed out as one might expect from a thinker of Dworkin s stature This may be because the concepts in question were originally articulated in lecture form, but it islikely to be because the editing process was cut prematurely short by the author s death In view of this, it is difficult to review the book fairly, because one suspects that the inadequacies of the book are a resul This book has a curious unfinished feeling to it the concepts deployed are not as well defined or thoroughly fleshed out as one might expect from a thinker of Dworkin s stature This may be because the concepts in question were originally articulated in lecture form, but it islikely to be because the editing process was cut prematurely short by the author s death In view of this, it is difficult to review the book fairly, because one suspects that the inadequacies of the book are a result of the termination of this editing process before its natural completion.Nevertheless, the argument can be analysed independently of this consideration I read the book in a day, which really tells you quite a lot about what was wrong with it it just isn t long enough Massive questions involving complex issues requiring detailed and nuanced treatment are dealt with in a matter of paragraphs This is enough to give you a feel for what Dworkin is trying to say, but not enough to glimpse how he might deal with any of the myriad potential questions his analysis raises.An example will suffice to illustrate my point He claims about thirty pages in that the traditional theistic equivalence between the being and the goodness of God is simply an unconvincing mystification with no possibility of being fleshed out convincingly This seems like a rather premature conclusion surely there are actually quite sophisticated arguments here that need to be dealt with For example, one could maintain that all conscious beings are in some sense identical with the contents of their dispositions, emotions, and thoughts they are the mental world they inhabit We don t speak of mortal, temporal creatures as being identical with their attributes because they exist in time and their attributes change, but this, according to the classical theistic tradition, is not true of God, who is eternal an immortal In other words God is a single eternal act, and so he is fully identical with his characteristics.This possibility, and a myriad others, are simply not considered in any real detail by Dworkin Even though he rightly eschews the often rather silly and hysterical accusations levelled against religious traditions by prominent atheists, he nevertheless defines his discussion against a supposed orthodox religious tradition which, in silhouette, looks rather like the less sophisticated end of mainstream evangelical Protestantism This isn t a straw man per se, but it is a missed opportunity.Similarly, his claim that wonder and beauty are objective properties of the natural order is somewhat lacklustre and unconvincing surely the best he can justify saying here is that our sense of wonder and beauty tracks objective features of the natural order He comes into his own when he moves into questionsdirectly in his field the most enlightening and well argued passages of the book deal with the politics of religious freedom, and indeed, the book is worth reading for this alone Nevertheless, there is still a distinct note of incompleteness He labours against the backdrop of an implied neutral standpoint between competing conceptions of the good This standpoint would, theoretically, allow governments to mediate between the claims of different faith traditions fairly only limiting the expression of faith when a question of safety or the public good arose The problem here is that the answer to precisely these kinds of questions looks different to people of different faiths Though Dworkin acknowledges this, he seems unable to follow this thought to its logical conclusion that the supposed neutrality of the state is a bit of an illusion.Nevertheless, the lady work of a great man worth reading I found this book interesting, though it didn t take me anywhere particularly new It had a gentle and respectful tone, while exploring some quite deep areas, albeit rather briefly Dworkin is a legal philosopher, and I appreciated the way he tries in this book to tease out what are the aspects values of religion that do not belong exclusively to religion, that may require legal protection whether or not an individual is a believer in a god He explores the ethical responsibilities that belong t I found this book interesting, though it didn t take me anywhere particularly new It had a gentle and respectful tone, while exploring some quite deep areas, albeit rather briefly Dworkin is a legal philosopher, and I appreciated the way he tries in this book to tease out what are the aspects values of religion that do not belong exclusively to religion, that may require legal protection whether or not an individual is a believer in a god He explores the ethical responsibilities that belong to individuals, and concepts of what it means to live a morally good life These are very similar for both theist and atheist, even when it comes to some of those big ethical issues that have become dominated by politicised religious voices, such as a woman s right to an early abortion Dworkin argues that the law should give equal concern for the well being of every citizen, while at the same time giving equal respect for individual responsibility to make freely the ethical choices he or she sees fit for living a morally good life Equal concern includes protecting some from others actions and beliefs, whether political, economic or religious, where they may have an unjust impact that is not a result of their own responsible choices It s a complex game.I enjoyed Dworkin s exploration of beauty, a concept covering so many possibilities, and claimed by both religion and physics Can a natural world of such beautiful symmetry and order be explained without a concept of a god or a guiding intelligence I think Dworkin s would say yes it can Perhaps we find it hard to live with ideas of randomness and accident, and unanswered questions, but the world is no less awesome for that The problem is that as soon as we start using words like beauty, awesomeness or perfection, whether to describe the natural world or the divine, we are drawing on a humanly constructed concept, imposing a value which is quite independent of the thing we describe It is about our responses, our values, rather than something produced by the thing we describe It is thus a value shared equally by believers and non believers, seeking expression for their experience of wonder Here s my take Book Review of Ronald Dworkin s Religion Without God The late Ronald Dworkin, Professor of Jurisprudence and Legal theory in New York and UCL, was not only the preeminent legal philosopher of his generation but also an influential contributor to political philosophy, and important public intellectual His writings encompass over twenty books, including Law s Empire 1984 and Justice for Hedgehogs 2011 and while his writings concentrate on law and political philosophy, just b Here s my take Book Review of Ronald Dworkin s Religion Without God The late Ronald Dworkin, Professor of Jurisprudence and Legal theory in New York and UCL, was not only the preeminent legal philosopher of his generation but also an influential contributor to political philosophy, and important public intellectual His writings encompass over twenty books, including Law s Empire 1984 and Justice for Hedgehogs 2011 and while his writings concentrate on law and political philosophy, just before his death Dworkin finally turned his attentions to religion from which we have this short suggestively titled essay Religion without God henceforth RWG.Religion Without God was posthumously published and edited based on the Einstein lectures Dworkin delivered to the University of Berne in 2011, and as the book jacket suggests the first iteration of a much larger book, before he succumbed to illness from cancer More often than not, the essay reads like what it is, a set of notes for a lecture Its melodious prose conveys the immediacy of what surely must have been a mesmerizing set of lectures, on the other it suffers from the inclusion of obscure arguments and fitful presentation some of which would certainly be excised The careful reader cannot help wondering how much of these ideas would survive the inevitable drafting, peer criticism and redrafting that any publication has to endure A measured evaluation of Religion without God is then, some would say rather aptly, irresolvable and finally imponderable, and this leaves the reader with all the satisfaction of going toe to toe with Dworkin for three rounds of shadow boxing In the end the reader has to focus on what is presented to him, and not what could ve been, a sentiment that he would surely approve For the purposes of brevity, I concentrate my attentions to evaluate the success, or otherwise as I argue here, of his provocative attempt to make case for religious atheism as a coherent analytic concept Dworkin defines religion in a such a way as to allow the inclusion of the godless among the religious I am sympathetic to this move as such he might also have adjusted the goalposts such that some godders were removed from the religious camp too but he doesn t I wouldn t mind being bracketed among the godless religious myself and I can relate to hisimpressionistic accounts of the features that qualify As it turns out though, I don t get so bracketed because for that to happen I would Dworkin defines religion in a such a way as to allow the inclusion of the godless among the religious I am sympathetic to this move as such he might also have adjusted the goalposts such that some godders were removed from the religious camp too but he doesn t I wouldn t mind being bracketed among the godless religious myself and I can relate to hisimpressionistic accounts of the features that qualify As it turns out though, I don t get so bracketed because for that to happen I would have to believe in objective values.But that s just me In general I was very impressed with the clarity of the exposition and the skill with which he separated out things that are logically separate to take a fairly obvious one, the existence of a god and life after death and set out the stakes and issues.THe one major weakness in the argument, in my judgment, is that he has very definite views on certain values, which leads him to make bold and rather unconvincing statements about the possibility of a state determining where certain lines should be drawn on the basis of its understanding i.e his understanding of how things stand with respect to some values in the context of, for instance, the teaching of intelligent design v the teaching of Darwinism in schools, gay marriage, the right to abortion, etc I share his liberal preferences pretty much, but I am not convinced as he seems to be that his positions on them are supported by an understanding of objective values that could command the consensus of supreme court judges and others.Nevertheless I think this short book is excellent and well worth re reading a number of times It attempts to set up a fresh way of looking at the themes of religion and theism and succeeds at least partially, and that s not something that happens at all often as far as I m aware And you re not obliged to subscribe to the objective value claim yourself in order to accept the sense of his arguments about religion Doporuceno